March 20, 2012 on 5:03 pm | In Fascinating Information, Federal Government, Legal, Lights Camera Transaction, Sellers, Uncategorized | No Comments

Edited by Jodi Summers

If you sold your home last year you are eligible for tax benefits, the IRS offers a list of tax tips to benefit you.

1. You are usually eligible to exclude much the gain from income if you have owned and used your home as your main home for two years out of the last five years prior to the date of sale.

2. If you have a gain from the sale of your primary residence, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 if you’re filing jointly, in most cases).

3. You are not eligible for the exclusion if you excluded the gain from the sale of another home during the two-year period prior to the sale of your home.

4. If you can exclude all of the gain, you do not need to report the sale on your tax return.

5. If you have a gain that cannot be excluded, it is taxable. You must report it on Form 1040, Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses.

6. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your main home.

7. Worksheets are included in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to help you figure the adjusted basis of the home you sold, the gain (or loss) on the sale, and the gain that you can exclude.

8. If you have more than one home, you can exclude a gain only from the sale of your main home. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your primary residence is the one you live in most of the time.

9. If you received the first-time homebuyer credit and within 36 months of the date of purchase the property is no longer used as your principal residence, you are required to repay the credit. Repayment of the full credit is due with the income tax return for the year the home ceased to be your principal residence, using Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of the Credit. The full amount of the credit is reflected as additional tax on that year’s tax return.

10. When you move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure you receive refunds or correspondence from the IRS. Use Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS of your address change.

For more information on the subject, refer to IRS Publication 523, Selling Your Home.

And please, confirm your intentions with your accountant.



November 16, 2011 on 12:15 am | In Fascinating Information, Federal Government, For Your Purchasing Pleasure, Market Trends, Problem Solving, Statistics, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

By Jodi Summers

For decades, 64% of American households owned their own home. The numbers began growing in 1995, due to incentives and encouragement from President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush. Homeownership hit an all-time peak of more than 69% in 2004. Between 2006 – 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau calculates that home ownership in the U.S. dropped more than 1% > from 68.8% to 67.8%. In 2010 home ownership was @ 66.9%. As you’d expect, that leaves a lot of vacant homes scattered throughout the countryside.

The percentage-point difference between the latest home vacancy rate (2.5%) and our usual rate (1.5%) amounts to an excess inventory of almost 1 million vacant homes. Those million homes are our “housing bubble” so to speak. As the situation exists, the extra inventory is slowly being worked off as the economy recovers and more households are formed. The oversupply of housing stock could easily be reduced by offering a tax write-off for investors who buy empty properties and rent them out.

“The biggest barrier to housing’s recovery right now is the vast supply of foreclosed and about-to-be foreclosed homes…the dreaded shadow inventory,” summarized CNBC journalist Diana Olick. “The biggest problem in the rental market right now is dwindling supply.”

Democrats and Republicans would agree that it’s in everyone’s best interest to get those vacant homes occupied. If that means renting them out as opposed to selling them, then Woooo! Hooooo!

Currently, for tax purposes, people who purchase residential real estate depreciate the value of the property over 27.5 years. To stimulate investment, policy makers have allowed businesses to immediately depreciate the full cost of most of their investments. Real estate hasn’t been eligible for this luxurious write down. But, what if Congress were to give investors the incentive to buy vacant houses by allowing them to write off the value immediately, as long as they hold on to the properties for some number of years and rent them out.

Investors are easy buyers because they skip the convoluted loan process and use cash. SoCal buyers paying cash accounted for 28.5% of total September home sales, notes DataQuick Information Services. 52.9% of those paying cash were absentee buyers, meaning they were investors or second-home buyers. For the record, cash buyers paid a median $210,000. September cash buyer level was down slightly from 29.1% in August but up from 26.2% a year earlier. Cash purchases hit a high of 32.3% of sales this February. Over the past 10 years, the historical monthly average has been about 14% paying cash, with about 16.7% of properties being purchased by absentee owners.

If Congress were to give investors the incentive to buy vacant houses and allow them to depreciate immediately, instead of over 27.5 years, “…The annual costs on real-estate investments would be reduced by about a third, given reasonable assumptions about tax rates for investors and the interest they must pay to borrow,” calculates Richard Wagreich of Citigroup’s Financial Strategy Group. This policy would make more rental units available and lower their price, thereby encouraging more people to move out of existing households and into their own rental units.

Obviously some boundaries would need to be put in place. The homes would need to have been vacant for a specified length of time, say six months. Investors would need to hold on to the property a minimum amount of time, say five years. The government would to have provisions to take back the benefit in cases where homes were quickly resold rather than leased to boost the economy.

As you might expect, the rental market continues to strengthen. The Core U.S. Consumer Price for rent jumped by +0.2%, and the index for owner’s equivalent rent increased by +0.1%. Please note this increase is an important category because it constitutes about 24.9% of consumer budgets – greater than the sum of gasoline (4.9%) and food (14.8%). Once again, residential units continue to be a good investment.

Calculate all the numbers, and you realize, the cost to taxpayers would be marginal, in the current economy “By giving the deduction in full now, rather than gradually, the government loses the time value of money over that period,” notes Peter Orszag is vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup Inc. “But when government bond yields are exceptionally low, as they are now, that cost is relatively modest.”

Hypothetically speaking, let’s assume this government gives investors the incentive to buy vacant houses. Because of this policy an additional 250,000 housing units are purchased each year and rented out, on top of the 500,000 other properties that will be rented out regardless of tax incentives. If the average price of those houses is $250,000 (roughly the national average), the 10- year cost to the government for each year the policy is in place would be less than $50 billion > but, figure that most of that amount would be recaptured in future years because the full deductions would already have been claimed, calculates Wagreich. In mathematical actuality, the cost to the government in present value would be about $10 billion for each year the policy was in place.

Using this line of philosophy, if this government were to maintain this policy for two years, we would work off half at least half of the excess inventory at a present-value cost to the government of $20 billion. Then, once the vacant home numbers return to a more normal level, the write-off automatically ends.



August 23, 2011 on 12:07 am | In Fascinating Information, Federal Government, Problem Solving, Statistics, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

By Jodi Summers

1 in 4 low and middle income renters are spending more than half their income on rent and utilities, concludes Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Nationally, that number translates into about 10 million households.

In April, one in every 593 housing units nationwide received a foreclosure filing. 55,896 of those properties were in California, according to Realty Trac. Much of that inventory is owned by the government, through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA.

“These affordability problems are marching up the income scale,” notes Harvard’s Eric Belsky. “It means more people have less money to spend on household necessities such as food, health care, and savings.”

As opposed to the government spending lots of money on maintaining those houses each month, why doesn’t ease properties out to some of those 10 million struggling households. The government makes money, families have more money to input into the economy – it’s a win-win.

As the economy improves, tenants and rent rates have become far more stable. The 2011 National Apartment Report from Marcus & Millichap notes that Los Angeles County vacancy rates will drop to 4.4% by year’s end… and… more good news… asking rents will reach $1,395 per month, up 1.8%.

“The biggest barrier to housing’s recovery right now is the vast supply of foreclosed and about-to-be foreclosed homes…the dreaded shadow inventory,” summarized CNBC journalist Diana Olick. “The biggest problem in the rental market right now is dwindling supply.”

The post-recession vision of home ownership is not what was. Recent grads who have been surfing the recession as well as Baby Boomers who took big hits on their nest egs don’t necessarily see housing as a solid investment. They can’t/don’t want to buy, but rents are high.

“The longer term view is that we have to have a more balanced housing policy nationally,” observed, Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

“We focused on home ownership. We have to continue to do that, but we can’t forget about rental housing.”


CALIFORNIA + IKEA BAN 100 WATT BULBS –> Potential savings: $35.6 million in electricity and 10.5 million incandescent bulbs

July 24, 2011 on 12:03 am | In Fascinating Information, Federal Government, Green, Market Trends, Statistics, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

by Jodi Summers

In California, we have always been ahead of the curve when it comes being progressive. We are proud of the fact that we are way ahead of the pack when it comes to CalGreen and alternative power. Once again, we’ve gone one step beyond by rolling the ban on 100-watt incandescent light bulbs early…and the big box retailer IKEA is in tandem with state goals.

New light bulb options include LED – light-emitting diode bulbs and CFL – compact fluorescent bulbs (which are rumored to contain mercury).

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, calls for a ban on the traditional 100-watt incandescent light bulb. The law goes into effect in all states starting in 2012.

By implementing the law one year earlier, the California Energy Commission concludes that consumers will save $35.6 million in electricity bills and 10.5 million incandescent bulbs will not be sold. We have yet to see the statistics on its impact on our carbon footprint…

IKEA has stopped selling and stocking incandescent bulbs, the first retailer to halt the sale of all such lights. This decision came from the results of an IKEA consumer survey conducted in December 2010, which found that 59% of Americans have already changed to energy-saving lights. 79% know that the bulbs will save money, although

61% are not aware of the legislation.

The phase-out of 100-watt bulbs does not currently affect lower wattage incandescent bulbs…but get ready…the CEC notes that over the next couple of years, similar efficiency standards will be applied to 75-, 60- and 40-watt bulbs.

The IKEA survey found that 62% are not concerned about the disposal of old bulbs… which can easily be recycled via mail or pickup through sites like




May 23, 2011 on 12:09 am | In Federal Government, Of Local Importance, Santa Monica Airport, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

By Jodi Summers

Have you ever had to go inside because of the noise from a plane around Santa Monica Airport? Now you can stalk the offending airplane and file complaints regarding plane noise & safety on the SMO Webtrak

WebTrak is a truly entertaining application that allows you to watch the movement of flights and air traffic patterns within the greater Los Angeles region. This flight tracking system includes specific information about flights from Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), as well as information on air traffic transitioning through the Los Angeles region. Information shown includes the aircraft’s type, altitude, origin/destination airports, and flight identification.

Here’s how you can tell what’s what…

* Blue aircraft icons represent departures from SMO

* Red aircraft icons represent arrivals to SMO

* Green aircraft icons represent departures from LAX

* Yellow aircraft icons represent arrivals to LAX

* Grey aircraft icons represent aircraft operating to or from another airport in the region, or that are transiting through the region and bypassing local airports.

* Airline, company designations and aircraft type information is encoded in 3 or 4 characters.

Aviation data is delayed approximately 20 minutes for security reasons. Three months of historical data may be viewed in the Replay Mode.


WebTrak is where you may file online noise complaints. Click on the “Complaint” tab located in the upper left corner of WebTrak, then click the “Complaint Form” button. You do not have to identify a flight to register a complaint. The Complaint tab will allow you to research the flight track data to find an aircraft operation that may have caused the disturbance you wish to report. If you do find it, WebTrak allows you to submit a complaint for that specific operation and fills in the information automatically.

SMO has come a long way since the first successful around-the-world-flight took off in 1924 from what was then known as Clover Field.


Launch SMO WebTrak:

For the FAA Aircraft Registry:

List of aircraft company, airline, aircraft type, and airport origin/destination abbreviations, click here:

The Santa Monica Airport (SMO) Internet Flight Tracking System uses Bruel & Kjaer’s WebTrak. All the details @



May 15, 2011 on 12:44 am | In Fascinating Information, Federal Government, Of Local Importance, WOW | 2 Comments

Viagra Online

By Jodi Summers

Go figure. We had more than 12% unemployment all 2010, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says Los Angeles County has more jobs than any other county in the U.S!!??!

In March 2010, the BLS notes that national employment totaled 126.3 million workers, a decline of -2.1% compared from a year prior. In Los Angeles county, our total employment was 3.86 million workers – down by -3.4% from the prior year.

Two other SoCal counties were also in the top 10. Orange County ranked #7 – total employment was 1.34 million workers, down by -4.2%.  San Diego County ranked #8 – employment totaled 1.23 million workers (-2.8%), compared with March 2009.

Lots of work on the coasts. Yet, California state unemployment has hovered above 12% this year. (Nationally, it’s been between 9.5%-10% in 2010.) Perhaps SoCal has a supply and demand issue. Statistically, it seems we have an adequate supply of jobs – there are just too many people demanding work.

Congratulations to the top 10 counties for employment rankings (as of March 2010):

* #1: Los Angeles, CA 3.86 million workers, (-3.4% over the year..);

* #2:  Cook, IL (Chicago),               2.31 million workers (-2.9% over the year..);

* #3:  New York, NY (Manhattan),    2.26 million workers (-1.7% etc…);

* #4:  Harris, TX (Houston),             1.97 million workers (-2.5%);

* #5:  Maricopa, AZ (Phoenix),         1.61 million workers (-3.8%).

* #6:  Dallas, TX, 1.39 million workers (-1.9%);

* #7:  Orange, CA 1.34 million workers (-4.2%);

* #8:  San Diego, CA 1.23 million workers (-2.8%)

* #9:  King, WA (Seattle),               1.10 million workers (-3.1%);

* #10:  Miami-Dade, FL, 0.95 million workers (-2.0%).

FYI…our employment statistics are among the ugliest in the country.  In September, according to
the BLS, Nevada’s unemployment rate held at 14.4%, again the highest among the states.
Nevada is followed by Michigan, 13.0%, and in third California at 12.4%. North Dakota
continued to register the lowest jobless rate, 3.7%.

In the big picture, only 22 of the largest 326 counties registered any growth in employment in the 12 months leading up to last March. The leaders were Elkhart, IN, where employment grew by +5.7%, and Benton, WA (+5.0% over the year).


« Previous PageNext Page »

Powered by Digital Shake LLC with WordPress